Computerworld, Reseller News and PC World get second life

Technology magazines Computerworld, Reseller News and PC World live to report another day, the publications’ licenses are being returned by Fairfax Media to IDG Australia next month.

Fairfax resigned its license to the titles on Monday, following weeks of rumours the titles were being axed. According to a statement from Fairfax, the three titles’ websites will continue operating – although it’s implied that the print versions will cease.

Along with the three formerly resigned titles, CIO Magazine is also being returned. The technology management bi-monthly has a lucrative events calendar, it makes sense for IDG to want the whole set in this move. Fairfax says the decision is mutual.

According to the announcement IDG will appoint journalists in New Zealand to cover the sector here. The Australian company has expressed an interest to retain CIO editor Divina Paredes in her position, but no news yet whether the seven or so other editorial staff will remain.

StopPress has contacted Fairfax and IDG for further information.

Original Story: Fairfax Media has hit the delete button on three of its technology magazines, taking with it decades of specialist IT knowledge.

A leaked press release to The NBR confirms weeks of rumours that Computerworld, Reseller News and PC World are on the chopping block. According to the release, their last issues will come out in early July.

The handful of staff are being presented with their options. Fairfax says job cuts are likely.

“As much as we regret having to make this tough decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our long-term success as a producer of quality content for New Zealanders,” says Lynley Belton, Fairfax
Magazines general manager.
“With change comes opportunity, and we are looking at ways to increase our technology presence across other Fairfax channels as the business adapts.”

A source inside of Fairfax (who wishes to be unnamed) says the IT magazines have been going through the motions for the past month and there was very little pretense as to the future of the titles. Morale is low, adds the source – many blaming slow moving decision makers up the Fairfax foodchain for not doing enough to make the magazines profitable.

CIO and Unlimited – which are part of the same group as the three publications being axed – will continue as they are. CIO has a very profitable events calendar, topped by the highly lucrative CIO Summit.

Paul Brislen, head of the Telecommunications Users Association New Zealand (TUANZ) and a former Computerworld editor himself, says the loss of the three mastheads is massive disservice to the New Zealand technology industry.

“The ICT industry in New Zealand needs a dedicated publication that can represent it. Something that reports on local IT news and takes overseas developments and puts it into a New Zealand context,” he says.

During its 25 years of existence, Computerworld has broken many IT news stories which have become issues of national importance – including the failures of Novopay. PC World is mostly a reviews magazine, providing consumers with tools for their next technology purchase.

Brislen adds that Computerworld and PC World have been springboards for many New Zealand journalists including Russell Brown (Public Address), Rob O’Neill (Sunday Star-Times), Chris Keall (The NBR) and also this humble reporter – working at Computerworld for a year before coming to Tangible Media.

Brislen has no doubts about what caused the publications’ troubles.  Computerworld and PC World were profitable entities while part of the New Zealand chapter of IDG (in its heyday supporting more than 40 staff). Once it was purchased by Fairfax in 2005, Brislen says the publications were “stripped for parts” – with cost cutting measures designed to maximize the profit back to Australia at the cost of quality back in New Zealand.

There’s a need for specialist New Zealand-specific IT coverage (as long as it’s kept online), says Brislen.

Another well known Paul in the New Zealand technology scene, NZ Tech Podcast founder Paul Spain, says it’s a sad time for the tech community.

Spain owns IT company Gorilla Technology , but it’s been many years since he’s paid for a subscription to the technology magazines. However, Spain believes there’s still an appetite for technology news with a New Zealand spin.

“There are a lot of entrepreneurial people in the technology community with blogs or even podcasts already creating this kind of content. It remains to be seen whether this will be the type to come from the loss of Fairfax or whether mainstream publishers will invest in a bit more technology coverage,” he says

Geekzone forum founder Mauricio Freitas says he isn’t surprised by the downfall of the three Fairfax magazines.

“It was a natural death. People searching for technology information want it to be more timely. Printed publications can’t deliver that and it doesn’t make sense for this kind of information to be delivered to IT managers once a month [twice a month in Computerworld and Reseller News’ case],” he says. Printed technology news for IT workers seems like an oxymoron.

Geekzone has around 125,000 to 200,000 monthly unique visitors from New Zealand, according to Freitas. It’s fairly representative of the community which Computerworld, Reseller News and PC World is targeted towards – however Freitas says there’s been barely a peep out of the community about their demise.

“The lack of discussion about the death [of these magazines]might represent something … I think this style of reporting is no longer popular,” he says.

Freitas agrees with the two Pauls that there’s room for a specialist IT publication to take the spot on the mantle vacated by the Fairfax titles, mostly because the technology community distrusts tech news in mainstream publications due to constant inaccuracies.

Geekzone also stands to make a small gain from this most recent Fairfax announcement. He expects as the Computerworld and PC World sites are wound down, traffic on Geekzone will increase slightly. The forums make enough revenue to support Freitas full time and a contract sales staff, but he admits it’s not at a point where it can do more technology journalism.

“In our case we have a good platform in terms of [audience]numbers and search engine reach, but we can’t yet justify having full time journalists to fully exploit all this traffic. Right now New Zealand has very large publishers like Fairfax, and small pulbishers like me, but nothing in between.

“There’s an opportunity there.”



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